Barcelona, ​​London and Amsterdam create the Global Observatory of Artificial Intelligence to facilitate the application of ethical AI systems in cities

01/07/2021 - 11:14 h

Jorge Luis Fuentealba Diez

It is an initiative promoted within the framework of the Cities Coalition for Digital Rights and will have the collaboration of UN-Habitat and CIDOB.

Barcelona, ​​London and Amsterdam launched on June 30 the Global Observatory of Artificial Intelligence, a new tool to control the ethical application of AI in cities. It is an initiative promoted within the framework of the Cities Coalition for Digital Rights, founded in 2018 by Barcelona, ​​Amsterdam and New York, and which has been made known to the set of more than 50 cities that are currently part of the network that works locally and internationally to obtain a fair, ethical and democratic technological model in cities. The new Observatory will have the collaboration of UN-Habitat and CIDOB-Centre for International Affairs of Barcelona.

The creation of this Observatory and the promotion of Barcelona’s international action as a benchmark for technological humanism are among the measures provided for in the Municipal Algorithms and Data for the Ethical Promotion of Artificial Intelligence Strategy , which has been promoted by the Barcelona City Council to set the governance and drive mechanisms of AI so that it respects the digital rights of citizens.

The third deputy mayor of the 2030 Agenda, Digital Transition, Sports and Territorial and Metropolitan Coordination of the Barcelona City Council, Laia Bonet, affirmed that “in Barcelona we work for an ethical model of Artificial Intelligence, and to do the best possible we need to know what other cities around the worldare doing. The Global Urban AI Observatory will allow us to learn from cities that, like Barcelona, ​​are pioneers in this field, as well as facilitate the application of ethical AI criteria in those that are just beginning”.

Objectives of the Observatory

  • Monitoring of the regulation, development and deployment of Artificial Intelligence in the member cities of the Coalition
  • Production and updating of policy standards for regulations and ethical applications in AI in cities
  • Identify the obstacles that prevent the development of a fair, transparent and responsible use of AI in urban areas
  • Contextualize the contributions of cities to global AI and technology trends

The 2021 Observatory work plan includes the results of the research:

  • A report on the ethical governance of algorithms in cities, which will analyze the mechanisms implemented by city governments to deploy ethical models of artificial intelligence, for example. Algorithmic records, human vision mechanisms, etc. The study will propose an analytical framework to evaluate these policies based on a set of criteria of fairness and transparency and with auditable models through the promotion of technologies and free software and open knowledge.
  • An online Atlas of good practices in urban AI, which will include files on specific cases of application of ethical AI solutions to sectoral urban policies (mobility, waste management, water and sanitation, tourism…).
  • A thematic report on the use of facial recognition in public space. The study will propose a set of criteria to evaluate the ethical and responsible nature of these systems.